Keelung Taiwan – Many are inclined to think that Taiwan’s gift to the world is really just night markets, bubble tea, and fried chicken, and whilst we’re not disputing that these three are anything short of amazing, there’s so much more to this tiny island engulfed between China and Japan. Having an extensive coastline around the entire country means that seafood is always fresh and abundance here, and nowhere is it more true than Keelung, the undisputed seafood mecca of Taiwan.
Keelung is a small fishing village just north of Taipei City, and is accessible via just one train ride. It’s charming, easy to navigate through, and offers a unique food experience, and thus is almost always included as a day-trip for all those visiting Taipei. Of course, you can also stay in the town itself to really soak in the daily fresh seafood hauls, harbourside views, and limitless market stalls in all its glory.
How To Get There?
Getting from Taipei City to Keelung is easy, thanks to the regular and reliable transport system in Taiwan. You can easily catch a bus from Taipei City Hall Bus Station to Keelung Station, and it will cost you roughly $47-62 TWD ($2 USD)and take between 40-50 minutes.
Getting around Keelung is also incredibly easy as the city is not quite as large and dispersed as other cities, and thus if you wear nice, comfortable walking shoes, you should be able to walk to many of the attractions without too much trouble (and of course, with the help of Google Map!). Otherwise, buses will be your best friend. If you don’t want to visit the city alone, you can also book this walking tour to get insider tips.
Where To Stay?
Keelung Taiwan Guesthouse – Good Sleep B&B
Whilst not located directly in Keelung itself, this affordable accommodation is instead in Jiufen, a probable stop for you along the way to Keelung from Taipei City. It’s only 30-minutes away by taxi, or 60-minute away by bus. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the accommodation, and a great breakfast spread is included in the room price. There’s also public parking nearby, which is great for those exploring Taiwan by rental car. Each room features a sofa, TV, and small fridge, with a private bathroom.
Why Guest Love It: “The uncle is friendly. Huge room for 4 people. Cozy and easy access to everywhere around that area”, “Very convenient location near Ruifang Railway Station, allows you to explore the Pingxi line and the Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus route easily. Room is spacious and beds are comfortable. Host is very friendly and helpful. He even drove us to and from Keelung Miaokou Night Market for a very reasonable cost”.
Book It Now: Good Sleep B&B
Keelung Taiwan Hotel – Evergreen Laurel Hotel (Keelung)
The Evergreen Lauren Hotel is one of the most highly rated hotels in Keelung. It sits right next to the Keelung Harbour, boasting some incredible views. For those after the luxe experience, there is an indoor heated pool, sauna facilities, and an on-site restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the hotel, and free parking is also available for those with a rental car. Take advantage of the luggage service, 24-hour front desk, and shuttle service offered by the hotel.
Why Guests Love It: “Harbour view, good facilities, good services, and good breakfast”, “Excellent hotel, City Centre Keelung, very close to night market and restaurants, fantastic breakfast”, “Great staff, big room, excellent breakfast, spectacular views!”, “I enjoyed the swimming pool, hot spring, and gym facilities”.
Book It Now: Evergreen Lauren Hotel (Keelung)
What to Eat?
Keelung Taiwan – Oyster Omelette
Even if you’re not a fan of oyster, this Taiwanese favourite is a must try. Fresh oyster is added to a fluffy egg omelette mix, making a tasty snack that is neither too filling nor too expensive. It’s sold all over Taiwan, but Keelung, with its daily fresh seafood haul, makes the best ones. We recommend trying the ones from the stalls on the left side near the entrance.
Keelung Taiwan – Thick Crab Soup and Glutinous Rice
This is a body-warmer, especially in the cooler months. You will see certain stalls displaying an enormous pot of thick, brown soup filled with mushroom, egg, and small crab pieces. Know that this is so delicious, you’re going to want one serving to yourself. Team it up with its famous counterpart, a small bowl of sticky rice, and you’ve got yourself a real Keelung-specialty.
Keelung Taiwan – Miaokou Night Market
Miaokou Night Market, more commonly known as Keelung Night Market, is possibly one of the biggest traditional seafood night markets in Taiwan. Being located right by Keelung harbor means there is an abundance of fresh seafood to gawk at and consume every night, and by the number of visitors this market receives every day of the week, you have to know that they’re doing something right. It’s usually the last pit stop at the end of touring northern Taipei for most tourists, so if you’re planning to do the same, expect there to be many other people who were thinking the same thing.
Unlike many of the markets around Taiwan where the overall feel and décor of the grounds are homogenous, Keelung slightly deviates in that it lines its main entrance with bursting yellow lanterns on either side, making it easy for visitors to locate it and also take distinct photos.
Like many markets around Taiwan, Keelung is a mix of food and merchandise, however, the food component is the main focal point to almost everyone who visits, and its not hard to see why. There are stalls upon stalls of incredibly inviting Taiwanese favourites like deep-fried crabs and whitebait, adventurous looking snacks like stir-fried fish skin, and, of course, an abundance of fresh and cooked seafood in display at prices that will make you balk for all the right reasons. How can it all be this cheap? To give you an example, a meal for four that consists of freshly fried blue swimmer crab with onion, steamed cockles, and abalone can cost in the downwards of $660 TWD ($22USD).
If you’re not a fan of fresh seafood, there are plenty of other subtle and non-seafood dishes to try. Some of the favourites include the thick crab meat and mushroom soup combined with steamed glutinous rice and oyster pancakes. And then, of course, you’ll have the traditional Taiwanese night market foods such as flat pancakes, sausages, freshly cut fruit, and bubble tea.
You’ll find that although this market only spans an area of around three blocks, you can spend hours just idling your way through the same streets over and over, spotting out a hidden stall every time and continuously pushing your stomach to its limit.
To really enjoy this night market and meet locals, you can book this tour: Keelung Midnight Fish Market Adventure.
Access: From Taipei Main Station, take a local train towards Keelung Station. This will cost roughly $41 TWD and take 45-minutes. From the station, it is a 10-minute walk to the market.
Hours: 12:00pm – 12:00am (most stores close earlier, around 11:00pm)
Keelung Taiwan – Waimu Shan Seashore Bike Path
As Keelung is a seaside village, you can imagine that the views of the coast are quite wonderful, and indeed they are! To fully appreciate this scenery, you can participate in a short yet picturesque bike track that takes you through a flat path alongside the beautiful Waimu Shan Seashore.
Along the way, you will come across waves crashing against the land, marine cliff sides, and gorgeous reef rocks that’ll no doubt make you stop and admire, and possibly conduct a photo-shoot. At certain points, you will be able to see the Keelung Islet, and often there will be cargo ships floating at the harbour, painting a serene picture of the sea.
The track is rather short, being only 1.2km long, so exploring this side of Keelung would be best combined with a day of exploration of the entire city itself. You can sign up for a bike tour of Keelung City to explore this area, or else you can rent bikes at Ruifang Station and ride it to Keelung using the bike-sharing YouBike system. The bike ride from Ruifang to Keelung should take roughly 60-minutes at a leisurely pace.
Keelung Taiwan – Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion (Qingyu Hall)
For the history buffs and those who adore ancient structural masterpieces that continually show more character as time passes, a short visit the the Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion, located quite close to the Keelung Night Markets precinct, is a great way to break up a day of eating, eating, and more eating.
The house originally belonged to a prominent figure in Taiwanese history, Khoo Tsu-song (widely known today as Hsu Tsu-sun, the same name pronounced in Mandarin), and reflects a wide variety of architectural influences that together as a whole make for an incredibly interesting site to explore inside and out – it’s overall structure, however, is reminiscent of a traditional Taiwanese home. It was built in 1931, but has been abandoned for more than 30 years, and now sits in its own ruin, albeit quite majestically so.
It’s not a well-known tourist destination in Keelung, and thus you can look forward to moments of peace and silence as you peruse through the abandoned house, carefully picking your way through cracked concrete floors, stepping through the doors adorned with overgrown shrubs, and admiring the tree roots that have winded their way up and down the walls of the two storey-building.
Visiting this site is like a peak into the past of Taiwan – even though the remaining rubbles of the house may not look appealing at first glance, once you step inside, the nostalgia of the past will fill the air.
Access: From Miaokou Night Market, head down Aisi Road to where it merges into Rensi Road. Continue until you see the sign for the old house, and follow the sign into the alleyway and up the stairs.
Keelung Taiwan – Keelung Zhongzheng (Chung Cheng) Park
The Keelung Zhongzheng Park, located on the side of Dashawan Mountain east of Keelung Harbour, is a popular recreational park for the residents of Keelung, and a relaxed area of sightseeing for tourists visiting the area. The park itself is full of colourful temples and grand shrines that make incredibly alluring pictures, but the ultimate attraction here would be the magnificent 23m statue of Guanyin, an enormous sculpture at the centre of the park looking towards the harbour to ensure mariners are kept safe from drowning and to protect the city from attacks.
You can spend quite a bit of time wandering in and around the structures, simply taking in all the beauty and studying the intricacies of the interior, and as it’s open 24/7, take your time.
For those visiting during autumn, one of Keelung’s biggest festivals is held at this very park. The annual ‘Keelung Mid-Summer Ghost Festival’ set its roots down more than 160 years ago, when the first festival was organised as a truce between two rival clans. It begins on the first day of the seventh lunar month, and over the next 12 days, lanterns are lit throughout. It’s quite a spectacle, and one that you will see majority of the residents of Keelung come together to celebrate.
Access: From Keelung Station, board a 201, 203, or 204 bus and alight at the Keelung Hospital. The park entrance is opposite the stop. You will need to walk up a flight of stairs. This will cost $22 TWD and take roughly 10-minutes for the bus ride, and around 15-minutes to get to the top of the stairs. Otherwise, you can walk from Keelung Station to the park entrance in 30-minutes.
Keelung Taiwan – Kanziding Fish Market
For those who thoroughly enjoyed the tuna fish auctions at the famous Tsukiji Fish Markets in Japan, you might be able to find a similar experience at the Kanziding Fish Market, albeit there are a few dissimilarities between the two. The Kanziding Fish Market started off as a small operation next to the waters that allowed fishermen to offload their successful catches to the market on land conveniently, but has grown to what could arguably be the largest and longest running wholesale seafood market in northern Taiwan.
As you can imagine, the main activity that goes on here is the buying and selling of seafood at a wholesale level, so as a tourist, you might not be able to gain much in that aspect, but then again, getting to experience a lively seafood market that only really starts to get going after midnight, complete with loud auctions and competitive bargaining, sometimes topless fish mongers and always intense crowds, that wraps up around sunrise and is completely gone by the early hours of the morning as the majority of the city wakes up is an unforgettable of an experience as it sounds.
As we mentioned, this market begins setting up around 10-11pm at night, peaks at around 3:00am, and shuts down around 6:00am, so prepare for a long night if you want to check this out.
The visit of Kanziding Fish Market is also included in this tour if you are interested: Keelung Midnight Fish Market Adventure.
Access: From Keelung Station, it is a 5-minute walk to the market.
Hours: 1:00am – 7:00am
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, Keelung is usually teamed up with exploring the various parts of northern Taiwan, such as Jiufen, and possibly Pingxi, and it’s usually just the night market that gets a visit. However, if you’re keen to visit and explore all the areas that we’ve detailed above, we highly recommend you spend at least an entire day in this quaint yet charming little village. Just under an hour away from Taipei is this seafood paradise that will have you dreaming of its thick crab soup even when you return home weeks later.
PS: If you want to relax near gorgeous beaches in Taiwan, don’t miss out this article: Taiwan Beaches.